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Tributes to the students who integrated the former Stratford Junior High School, outside of Dorothy Hamm Middle School in 2023 (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Arlington County police are investigating “extensive” graffiti, including a racist word, on the roof of Dorothy Hamm Middle School.

Families were informed of the vandalism via email yesterday.

The principal of the school in the Cherrydale neighborhood, at 4100 Vacation Lane, noted that “the students involved have been identified.” There’s no immediate word on potential disciplinary actions. The email is below.

Dear Dorothy Hamm Families,

I am writing to inform you about an incident involving vandalism on the school’s roof that occurred over the weekend that included a racist term.

We immediately reported the vandalism to the APS Department of Safety, Security and Emergency Management and the Arlington County Police Department (ACPD). The students involved have been identified and the investigation by the ACPD is ongoing. The families of the students involved have been notified.

While the graffiti damage is extensive, there is no evidence of additional vandalism or other suspicious activity at the school.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the office.

Sincerely,

Ellen Smith,
Principal

The school, formerly Stratford Junior High School, has a notable history as the first Arlington public school to be integrated, in 1959.

It was renovated and expanded a few years ago, converted to a middle school, and renamed after a prominent Arlington civil rights figure who led the local school desegregation effort.

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An Arlington farmers market (courtesy of Ballston BID)

With springtime in the air in Arlington, many local farmers markets are coming back to life.

Vendors selling seasonal fruits and veggies and other local goods will return to several neighborhoods in the coming weeks following a yearly winter hiatus.

This season, the county will be home to nine official farmers markets — one more than this time last year because of the arrival of Met Park Market near Amazon HQ2 last June.

Four markets have recently reopened or are coming back this month.

  • Met Park on Saturdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Ballston on Thursdays from 3-7 p.m. starting April 4
  • Cherrydale on Saturdays from 8 a.m.-noon, starting April 20
  • Lubber Run on Saturdays from 8 a.m.-noon, starting April 20

Two markets are also opening next month.

  • Rosslyn on Wednesdays from 3-7 p.m., starting May 1
  • Fairlington on Sundays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., starting May 7

Another three markets are open year round and expanding offerings during the warmer weather months.

  • Arlington (in Courthouse) on Saturdays from 8 a.m.-noon, which is expanding with the start of its main season on April 6
  • Columbia Pike (in Douglas Park) on Sundays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Westover, currently open on Sundays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., will shift to an 8 a.m.-noon. schedule starting in May

As of this week, D.C.-area farmers markets are abundant in spring produce such as spinach, bok choy, cabbage and broccoli. Vegetables including asparagus, green garlic and ramps are currently on their way in.

The Ballston market, meanwhile, is expanding with new vendors this year and starting its monthly “Mega Markets” — with live music and a beer and wine garden — starting in May.

More, below, from a press release.

The Ballston Business Improvement District (BID) is expanding its weekday Farmers Market this season, adding new vendors and releasing a line-up of local musicians slated to perform at monthly Mega Markets. The ultra-popular Farmers Market, presented by FRESHFARM and in partnership with Piedmont Office Realty Trust, takes place each Thursday from April through November from 3-7 p.m. in shady, tree-filled Welburn Square near the Ballston Metro.

“We are absolutely elated  to kick off our 12th season of offering the Ballston community locally grown, sustainable goods right here in Ballston,” stated Tina Leone, CEO, Ballston BID. “Our Farmers Market is one of our most successful programs and is unique in its timing and location. Weekday markets in a metro-accessible park from 3-7pm allows both office workers and residents to shop with and support local farmers. We are excited to welcome back some of our most popular vendors while adding even more to the mix for market-goers to enjoy.”

Beginning May 2, Mega Markets, sponsored by VIDA Fitness will be held on the first Thursday of each month. Mega Markets feature the same great produce and vendors with the addition of live music from local musicians and a Beer & Wine Garden. Drink tickets for the Beer & Wine Garden are distributed by vendors to market-goers meeting a minimum $10 spend, and are also available for purchase in the Garden. For the first time ever, the final market of this season on November 21 will also be a Mega Market. This year’s live music line-up includes:

  • May 2: Josh Sowder Duo
  • June 6: Rook Richards
  • July 11: Joe Downer
  • Aug 1: Bruno Sound
  • Sept 5: Jerry Irwin
  • Oct 3: Knox Engler
  • Nov 7: Nick Tierra
  • Nov 21: Matt Davis

Welburn Square is located across the street from the Ballston Metro stop and is easily accessible by foot, car and public transportation. This market is a natural gathering place for the workers and residents of Ballston, as well as visitors and commuters. Farmers Market offerings include conventional and certified organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed meats and pasture-raised eggs, organic milk, yogurt, ice cream, sweet and savory baked goods, Virginia-made wines, cold-pressed juices, handmade soaps and lotions, wood-fired pizza, hot-pressed sandwiches and more.

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Arlington police car (file photo)

An 18-year-old Arlington woman is facing a litany of charges after an reported bike theft led to violence.

The incident happened Sunday evening near the intersection of S. Walter Reed Drive and S. Glebe Road.

Police say they were called after a woman entered a home and stole a bike. Confronted by a victim a couple of blocks away, the woman allegedly “assaulted him, attempted to steal his jewelry, damaged a watch and struck him with a bottle.”

The suspect is also accused of kicking two of the police officers who subsequently took her into custody.

More, below, from the latest Arlington County Police Department crime report.

ASSAULT ON POLICE, 2024-03170214, 1700 block of S. Walter Reed Drive. At approximately 7:15 p.m. on March 17, police were dispatched to the report of a burglary in progress. Upon arrival, it was determined the female suspect allegedly entered the victims’ home and was verbally confronted by Victim One. The suspect then stole a bicycle, exited the home and fled the scene. Victim Two located the suspect with the stolen bicycle at 18th Street S. and S. Monroe Street and approached her. The suspect subsequently assaulted him, attempted to steal his jewelry, damaged a watch and struck him with a bottle. The suspect then assaulted a witness who attempted to intervene. As responding officers were detaining the suspect, she kicked two of the officers. Victim Two reported minor injuries and did not require medical treatment. [The suspect], 18, of Arlington, Va. was arrested and charged with Assault on Police (x2), Assault and Battery (x2), Malicious Wounding, Burglary, Destruction of Property and Attempted Robbery. She was held without bond.

Another notable burglary incident happened early Sunday morning in the Cherrydale area. A man tried to force entry into four homes before police were called and a 38-year-old suspect was taken into custody, according to ACPD.

ATTEMPTED BURGLARY (Series) , 2024-03170063/2024-03170064/2024-03170087, 4000 block of Vacation Lane/3900 block of Lorcom Lane/3700 block of Lorcom Lane. At approximately 3:20 a.m. on March 17, police were dispatched to the report of a burglary in progress. Upon arrival, it was determined the female victim was inside her residence when she heard loud banging and observed the male suspect allegedly attempting to force entry into her home by kicking a door. The suspect then left the scene and a short time later, three additional victims in the area reported an individual matching the description of the suspect attempt to force entry into their homes before fleeing the scene. A lookout was broadcast and responding officers canvassed the area and located the suspect. The suspect ran from officers and was subsequently located in the 2400 block of N. Lincoln Street and taken into custody. [The suspect], 38, of Arlington, Va. was arrested and charged with Attempted Burglary (x4).

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This past weekend was spring forward for time. This week as been spring open for cherry blossoms.

Thanks to warm and sunny weather, tree blossoms have been opening at a rapid clip, and that includes those on Arlington’s cherry blossom trees.

Blossom seekers can enjoy the bloom by visiting some of the local sites with cherry tree clusters, including:

  • Cherrydale Baptist Church (3910 Lorcom Lane)
  • Arlington National Cemetery (1 Memorial Ave)
  • Long Bridge Park in Crystal City (475 Long Bridge Drive)
  • Quincy Park in Virginia Square (1021 N. Quincy Street)
  • Welburn Square in Ballston (901 N. Taylor Street)

Arlington has a few events and activities planned coinciding with blossom season, including a pop-up market with local vendors at Metropolitan Park in Pentagon City and live music at the Crystal City Water Park.

The more famous Tidal Basin cherry blossoms in D.C., meanwhile, have reached the final stage before peak bloom. The National Park Service made the announcement this morning.

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A Cherrydale vape shop has closed less than a year after opening.

L.A. Leaf opened last spring, stocking a variety of CBD and vape products. Now, however, the store’s interior is empty and its phone number is answered with a dial tone.

The store is the latest in a string of businesses to pop up in one of the retail bays at the base of the condo building at 3800 Langston Blvd, only to shutter a short time later.

In 2015, Kite Runner Cafe, a critically acclaimed Afghan restaurant, closed after just two years in business. Gaijin Ramen Shop took over about two months later, likewise earning some local accolades and 4.4 stars on Google before closing in 2022.

Next door, House of Steep, a tea house and “foot sanctuary” that offered foot soaks and massages, lasted six years from 2012 to 2018. A Subway, meanwhile, survived seven years before closing in 2019, making way for L.A. Leaf.

Jim Todd, president of the Cherrydale Citizens Association, argued that poor accessibility may contribute to closures at this location.

“I think for a number of years, it just suffered from insufficient parking options,” he told ARLnow.

Metered street parking beside 3800 Langston Blvd is limited, and while the building has some retail parking in the back, Todd believes it could be advertised more obviously.

He also believes the county could do more to improve nearby crosswalks.

One of two crossings leading to the building lacks flashing beacons. The county instead provides pedestrians with a reflective “see me” flag to ensure motorists notice them.

Cherrydale, which has a neighborhood plan of its own, was not included in Plan Langston Blvd, a county initiative that passed in November with the goal of expanding public transit, housing and commercial development along the major road, while making it less car-centric.

Public parking was a sticking point, with some advocating it be included as a goal in order to support for existing small businesses. The plan encourages below-grade parking for new developments, shared parking across adjacent parcels and surface lots tucked away from the main road.

“[The county] basically is unwilling to admit that what makes retail successful is adequate parking,” the president said, arguing that large parking lots are key to the success of several nearby strip malls on the other side of the boulevard.

A recent county report, by contrast, argues that lower parking minimums could help spur investment in some local businesses. The report claims that requiring too many parking spaces for establishments such as fitness centers can deter investors from filling vacant space.

Though 3800 Langston Blvd currently lacks open businesses, at least one establishment hasn’t given up hope on the location.

As we reported in January, Burger Billy’s Joint is on track to open next door to the shuttered L.A. Leaf. It has yet to announce an opening date.

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A serious crash shut down part of Miliary Road in the Cherrydale neighborhood this afternoon.

The crash happened shortly before 12:30 p.m. Tuesday on the 2200 block of Military Road, a block from Dorothy Hamm Middle School.

Initial reports suggest that a sedan was driven into the back of a trailer parked on the side of the road.

One person was trapped in the car after the crash and was freed by Arlington firefighters, who used rescue equipment to cut off the vehicle’s roof.

The trapped person and a second vehicle occupant were taken to a local hospital via ambulance. Both had potentially serious injuries.

An early report that one person was unconscious after the crash could not immediately be confirmed.

Dan Egitto contributed to this report

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Burger Billy’s Joint (via @alysonphoto/X)

A new burger restaurant with a novel take on contactless service is coming to Cherrydale.

A sign for Burger Billy’s Joint has been installed above a ground floor retail space at the condo building at 3800 Langston Blvd.

There are no specifics on when the burger joint might open, but a Facebook page associated with the restaurant says that “Burger Billy’s Joint is coming to the Cherrydale community in Arlington, VA, very soon!”

Burger Billy’s Joint promotes quick and simple service, locally sourced ingredients and “food lockers” to get customers “in and out quickly,” the restaurant’s website says. Customers can place their order and pick it up from the no-contact locker system or have it delivered through an app-based delivery service.

“We love and appreciate you but we know you’re busy,” the website says. “That’s why our restaurants are designed to get you in and out quickly. Our Food Locker system will ensure you get the correct order, fast!”

The burgers at Burger Billy’s Joint will be fresh and made-to-order, using ingredients from Virginia farms, including grass-fed beef from Cottonwood Ranch in Front Royal and fries and hot dogs from Winchester, the website says.

The burger joint will join L.A. Leaf, a CBD and vape shop which opened in 2023, and an existing ATM-only Chase Bank vestibule, in the building’s street-facing retail bays.

The condo building in Cherrydale has seen a few homegrown businesses open on the ground floor and gain popularity, only to close a few years later. Among them were tea house and foot-soaking “sanctuary” House of Steep, closed in 2018, and Gaijin Ramen Shop, which closed in 2022.

Photo via @alysonphoto/X

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Tuna Restaurant in Cherrydale (photo courtesy of Sak Vong)

The owner of Tuna Restaurant in Cherrydale says she plans to rename the Thai and Japanese eatery “Siam Shinzo.”

The new signage, however, won’t be displayed until early next year. And the menu will stay the same.

“It is official on papers, but the signage is still in the process,” the owner, May Ditnoy, told ARLnow. “I probably won’t have it ready to be installed until early February.”

Located at 3813 Langston Blvd, the restaurant has undergone several changes over the years. Originally a spot for Thai cuisine, it became a sushi restaurant in 2015 following a change in ownership. In 2022, it transitioned to Laotian and Japanese cuisine under new management.

Ditnoy acquired the restaurant this past spring, marking its fourth ownership change in eight years. Despite retaining its name, the menu shifted to Thai and Japanese cuisine.

Ditnoy, a Leesburg resident who also runs a catering business with her mother, said she always intended to rename the restaurant. She chose not to delay the restaurant opening to wait for the name change paperwork.

Nearly eight months later, Ditnoy says she believes a name change will more accurately represent the restaurant’s menu offerings.

“Siam is the shortened original name for the capital of Thailand that is now Bangkok. ‘Shinzo’ means heart in Japanese,” she said.

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Last year Charga Grill topped the Washington Post’s annual list of top casual restaurants in the region.

That sent a flood of new customers to the eatery at 5151 Langston Blvd. Now two other Arlington restaurants, including another along Langston Blvd, are bound to see a big influx of diners thanks to the latest WaPo rankings.

Food critic Tim Carman’s list of the 10 best D.C.-area casual restaurants of 2023 ranks King of Koshary in Bluemont at #6 and Bostan Uyghur Cuisine in Cherrydale at #10.

King of Koshary, at 5515 Wilson Blvd, was previously praised by Carman for its “Egyptian food fit for royalty.”

“The King’s koshary is actually a joint effort from Ayob Metry and Nadia Gomaa, a pair of Egyptian natives who used to challenge each other to make the best version of this carb-heavy dish when they worked in the prepared foods department at Whole Foods in Ashburn,” Carman wrote in his latest list, published Tuesday.

Bostan Uyghur Cuisine, at 3911 Langston Blvd, was also noted for its compelling origin story — in addition to the food.

“Faced with the threat of a Chinese ‘reeducation’ camp if he returned to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to renew his passport, Mirzat Salam opted to flee to the United States with his wife, Zulhayat Omer,” Carman wrote. “Trained as a doctor in Xinjiang, Mirzat slipped quietly into the hospitality industry, the same profession that his father, a chef named Abdusalam, had warned him about as a boy.”

Topping this year’s list, in the former Charga spot, is Woodbridge food truck Lechonera DMV.

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Eighteen properties formerly within a special “revitalization district” in Cherrydale will soon officially be eligible for redevelopment with 2- to 6-unit homes.

On Monday, the Arlington Planning Commission unanimously adopted changes to the county’s General Land Use Plan map that removed 18 properties from the boundaries of the Cherrydale revitalization district, outlined in the 1994 Cherrydale Revitalization Plan.

According to Missing Middle ordinances, these properties would have been exempt from Expanded Housing Option, or EHO, development because they were intended for larger-scale redevelopment. But that was unlikely to happen.

“Since the redevelopment on adjacent properties did not also include these parcels as part of the site assemblages, it is unexpected and likely infeasible for the balance of properties to redevelop on their own consistent with the Cherrydale plan,” per a county report.

If the Arlington County Board approves the proposed map changes this month, these 18 properties could have a new path forward for redevelopment as EHOs, potentially creating a subtler transition from higher-density or commercial buildings to single-family home neighborhoods.

Proposed changes to the Cherrydale Revitalization District Boundaries (via Arlington County)

Since the revitalization plan was adopted in 1994, several properties in Cherrydale have redeveloped, becoming townhouses, for instance, but leaving a collection of single-family homes nearby.

When the Missing Middle ordinances were adopted, county staff recommended studying the Cherrydale Revitalization District boundaries as part of Plan Langston Blvd, which outlines how the county can leverage private development to turn car-centric Langston Blvd into a leafy, walkable corridor with more housing, retail and open space.

Notably, Cherrydale had been left out of Plan Langston Blvd because its redevelopment plan had yet to be fully realized. Still, with this recommendation, staff sought to find homes unlikely to be assembled for larger-scale redevelopment and free them up for EHO development.

The map shows other blocks with a few single-family homes are still included in district, meaning the county still has high hopes developers could assemble these properties for larger-scale developments.

An aerial view of a car dealership and restaurant, and single-family homes nearby, that could be assembled for larger redevelopment projects (image by ARLnow via Google Maps)

The Planning Commission adopted the changes this month after a month-long delay.

In November, the County Board decided to postpone hearings on the map until December because a copy of the map “was inadvertently omitted” from meeting materials in October, when the Board heard staff’s request to advertise hearings, the report said.

The item is now teed up to go before the County Board on Saturday, Dec. 16.

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Janet Saedi and Essy Carriage House owner Essy Saedi (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The long-time former owner of Essy’s Carriage House has died.

Essy Saedi died on Thanksgiving, November 23, at the age of 76. He owned the beloved family-owned Cherrydale restaurant before its closing earlier this year. As he told ARLnow, Saedi was looking forward to traveling in his retirement.

“I’m excited… I get to go to Las Vegas more,” he said.

Saedi immigrated to the United States from Iran in the 1960s and helped open the restaurant Langston Blvd near the corner of N. Quincy Street and Cherry Hill Road in 1975. He took over as full owner a year later, renaming the eatery after himself — Essy’s Carriage House.

In nearly five decades, Saedi’s restaurant became a local staple, serving up steak, liver and comfort food to a loyal customer base. It had the “best crab cakes we’ve ever had. Anywhere,” according to one customer.

Even as he closed in on retirement, Saedi still did much of the prep work at the restaurant, including the sauce-making and meat-braising.

Essy’s Carriage House was known for its white-clothed tables and fresh-cut flowers on each table. Throughout its run, the restaurant served judges, military brass, lawmakers, lawyers, and, even “four-star generals,” according to Saedi. He primarily ran the restaurant with his wife, Janet Saedi, whom he married in the 1980s.

“It’s really been fundamentally the two of us running this place,” Janet told ARLnow in February. “But it’s been beautiful.”

But it was Essy who was the face of the restaurant and a big reason why customers kept coming back for close to five decades.

“I guess I’m just cute,” Essy said earlier this year.

He was known for “his warmth, his story telling, his mixed metaphors and his sometimes inappropriate sense of humor,” his obituary reads. Saedi could be seen on most nights at his restaurant running between tables, chatting with customers, and telling everyone what to order.

Essy had a “quirky sense of humor that some people adore… and there are people who don’t quite get it,” Janet said.

He embraced his quirkiness and was once named “the most colorful character in Arlington” by a local newspaper, notes his obituary. Saedi often called himself the “Luckiest Persian Alive.”

In the weeks before the restaurant was set to close, Essy was still busy at the restaurant and doing what he did best: sharing laughs with customers.

“They’ve become family and friends. We’ve done this for 50 years and we see [many] like once a week,” Essy said in February, taking a long pause. “Maybe I’ll pass them at the grocery store someday.”

Essy Saedi is survived by his wife Janet, daughters Lorena and Tonya, and sister Mehry. The family is planning a private burial and, in lieu of flowers, is asking for donations to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

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